Iowa candidate filings deadline thread

The filing deadline for statewide and state legislative offices closed at the end of business today. John Deeth has been covering the highlights at his blog. Click here to download a pdf file from the Secretary of State’s office for the full candidate list.

As I mentioned earlier, Governor Chet Culver has no primary challenger. All three remaining Republican gubernatorial candidates qualified for the ballot (Terry Branstad, Rod Roberts, Bob Vander Plaats).

There will be a three-way Democratic primary for U.S. Senate between Roxanne Conlin, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause.

Republicans have a full slate of candidates for statewide offices. Sadly, Democrats failed to find anyone to take on Auditor David Vaudt.

Four Republicans filed against Bruce Braley in Iowa’s first Congressional district, and four Republicans filed against Dave Loebsack in the second district. All seven declared GOP candidates qualified for the ballot in Iowa’s third district. I would not be surprised if a district convention ends up selecting Leonard Boswell’s opponent.

Bill Maske is the only Democrat running against Tom Latham in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district. As expected, we will have a competitive primary in the fifth between Mike Denklau and Matt Campbell.

Most surprising statehouse district left uncontested: House district 16 in northeast Iowa. I had heard rumors that Republicans had no candidate against freshman State Representative John Beard, but I’m still shocked they left him unchallenged. That was a battleground race in 2008. Does anyone know whether a GOP district convention will be able to name a candidate for this race later?

Democrats didn’t leave any obviously competitive statehouse districts open. I’m a little disappointed we don’t have a candidate in House district 73, from which Republican Jodi Tymeson is retiring. It is a fairly strong GOP district, but I thought a candidate pounding the pavement there might help State Senator Staci Appel in her re-election campaign against Kent Sorenson (Senate district 37).

We found a candidate in House district 51 (Carroll County), which Rod Roberts is vacating to run for governor. Democrat Larry Lesle of Manning will face the winner of a three-way GOP primary.

Yesterday two-term incumbent Elesha Gayman surprised many people by announcing her retirement from House district 84 in Davenport. Gayman indicated that no one had been lined up to replace her, but today Shari Carnahan filed for that seat as a Democrat. She will face Gayman’s 2008 opponent, Ross Paustian.

Ruth Ann Gaines ended up being the only Democrat to file in Wayne Ford’s district 65 (Des Moines).

Six Democratic Iowa House incumbents have primary challengers. The people running against Dave Jacoby (district 30, Iowa City/Coralville) and Geri Huser (district 42, east side of Des Moines) appear to be backed by organized labor. A socially conservative pastor, Clair Rudison, is running against Ako Abdul-Samad in district 66 (Des Moines). Anesa Kajtazovic stepped up to the plate in House district 21 (Waterloo). Freshman Kerry Burt really should have retired from that seat. I don’t know what the deal is with Kenneth Oglesby, who is challenging Chuck Isenhart in district 27 (Dubuque). Likewise, I have no idea why Mike Petersen is running against Mary Gaskill in district 93 (Ottumwa). Please post a comment or e-mail me (desmoinesdem AT if you know the backstory.

Most surprising retirement: Republican Doug Struyk in district 99. The GOP candidate for secretary of state in 2006, Mary Ann Hanusa, is running for the Council Bluffs-based seat instead. She will face Democrat Kurt Hubler, who nearly defeated Struyk in 2008. Struyk was first elected as a Democrat but switched parties several years ago. His departure will leave only one turncoat in the Iowa House. We failed to field a candidate against Dawn Pettengill (district 39), who switched to the GOP in 2007.

More posts are coming soon on some of the battleground statehouse races. Meanwhile, post any relevant comments in this thread.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that we will see seven or eight rematches in Iowa House races. Republicans are running Josh Thurston and Stephen Burgmeier and 2009 special election winners Kirsten Running-Marquardt (district 33) and Curt Hanson (district 90). Also, in district 23 first-term Democrat Gene Ficken will face the Republican he beat in 2008, Dan Rasmussen. Republican Jane Jech is taking another shot at incumbent Mark Smith in district 43. The district 89 race may be a rematch as well if Jarad Klein wins the GOP primary to face first-term Democrat Larry Marek. In House district 60, first-term Republican Peter Cownie faces 2008 Democratic candidate Alan Koslow. Not only will Koslow be at a severe financial disadvantage, his endorsement of Jonathan Narcisse for governor won’t win him friends among the Democratic base. Democrat Pat VanZante is taking another shot at Jim Van Engelenhoven in district 71 (assuming Van Engelenhoven doesn’ lose to his GOP primary challenger). Republican Dave Heaton will face his 2008 opponent, Ron Fedler, in district 91.

SECOND UPDATE: Republicans are crowing that they are fielding candidates in 88 of the 100 Iowa House districts, while Democrats are fielding candidates in only 75 districts. I would like to challenge Republicans everywhere, but it’s only natural that Iowa Democrats are going to focus more on defense this year. We already have the majority, and it could be a tough cycle for incumbents at all levels.

Republicans will play catch-up in Iowa House district 74

Republican Kent Sorenson’s narrow victory over State Representative Mark Davitt in Iowa House district 74 was perhaps the biggest upset in the state in 2008. The Democratic-leaning district includes much of Warren County, including Indianola and the Simpson College campus. Sorenson decided to run against Staci Appel in Iowa Senate district 37 instead of running for re-election to the House.

Scott Ourth announced plans to run for this seat in October and was already pounding the pavement months before that. I’d heard he was working hard, and I noticed that he reported strong fundraising in his filing with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. I didn’t realize until today that Ourth raised the bar for Democrats running for the Iowa House:

Ourth, a 50-year-old Democrat from Ackworth, claimed $37,359 in campaign contributions for 2009. The earnings, listed on a Jan. 19 disclosure form, trumped Rep. Tyler Olson’s 2005 record for the most money raised by a first-time Democratic candidate in the year prior to election year, according to Pat Murphy, speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives.

“No first-time candidate for the Iowa House from our party has ever gained this much financial support this early in the campaign cycle,” Murphy said in a prepared statement. “Mr. Ourth works very hard. His fundraising report definitely bears that out.” […]

More than 200 people donated by Jan. 1, including slightly more than 20 political action committees.

Ourth spent nearly $4,500, leaving him with approximately $32,800 on hand. Most of his expenses consisted of office equipment – he plans to use his home for a campaign headquarters, he said – and event invitations, according to his disclosure form.

The article goes on to say that at least one Republican plans to run in House district 74, but I haven’t heard any names floated. We’ll find out before the March filing deadline. Iowa House Republican leaders raised a lot of money last year, so they will be in a position to help out the eventual candidate here. But if I were in their position I would think hard before investing a lot in this district. Whoever jumps in for the GOP will start out way behind Ourth in retail campaigning as well as fundraising. Republicans have better opportunities to win some Democratic-held seats in other parts of the state, and some of their challengers will also need more money to be competitive.

House district 74 is likely to remain the best pickup opportunity for Democrats this year, but assuming Rod Roberts stays in the governor’s race, I like our chances in House district 51 too. (There are still a lot of Democrats in the Carroll area.) Picking up one or two Republican-held seats would make it much more difficult for the GOP to take back the Iowa House, where Democrats now have a 56-44 majority.

Any comments about state legislative races are welcome in this thread.

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High-profile showdown coming in Senate district 37

Next year’s campaign in Iowa Senate district 37 will be closely watched statewide and may draw some national attention. Republican State Representative Kent Sorenson has decided to challenge first-term Senator Staci Appel instead of seeking re-election to Iowa House district 74. The socially conservative Sorenson made a splash this summer with his open letter imploring Senator Chuck Grassley to provide "principled and bold leadership" to advance the Republican Party platform. Appel is assistant Senate majority leader and chairs the State Government Committee. Her husband is one of the seven Iowa Supreme Court justices who unanimously struck down our Defense of Marriage Act in April.

Republican blogger Craig Robinson is upbeat about Sorenson’s chances.

My opinion on this matchup hasn’t changed since Robinson first discussed the prospect in May: Bring it on.

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